The Absolute Best Rooftop Bars in Seattle
From penthouse hotel bars to breweries with a view, this is where you should be drinking from on high in Seattle.
It’s extremely boring to be constantly talking about the weather, but at this point in the year, we can’t help it. Winter has been dragging on forever, and every promise of spring is followed by rain (fine) or another cold snap (no). But the light at the end of the tunnel is very much visible at this point, and summer is on its way. Which brings us to one important aspect of the season: rooftop drinking. Far from the dimly lit, huddled-by-the-fire-for-warmth drinking of the winter season, rooftops are decidedly bright, cheery, and bursting with good views—all of which make them prime locations for an evening (or afternoon) libation. So slap on some anticipatory sunscreen, grab your vax card, and head to one of the following bars—because summer is around the corner.
Patio Cielo recently reopened for Fridays and Saturdays only, and we’d wager it’s only a matter of time before better weather permits expanded hours. In the meantime, though, visit this rooftop bar inside of Mercado Luna (which also houses Mezcaleria Oaxaca, taco takeout window Lado a Lado, wine shop Vinaterita, and Chonchos Churros) for a real taste of Mexico, in the form of cocktails, beer, wine, and… more cocktails.
The Lookout is more of a hilltop than a rooftop, but its views, food, and general ambiance make up for its technical lack of a roof. With the Space Needle off to the left and the rest of Seattle sprawling out to its right, your drink (perhaps the Queen Bitch, the Hot Marie, or the Sazerac) will taste that much better. Plus, during happy hour, a well drink will only set you back five bucks.
Hard Rock Cafe
Before you dismiss this restaurant as a memory from the early aughts you don’t want to relive, hear us out. Overlooking Pike Place Market and brimming with cushy sofa-like seating, Hard Rock Cafe is downtown Seattle’s diamond in the rough. Add to that a live music happy hour, a Sunday drag brunch, and a menu that simply screams nostalgia, and you’d be remiss not to give this rooftop (and restaurant) a second chance.
Smith Tower Observatory Bar
Housed in the historic, 108-year-old Smith Tower, this speakeasy-style bar offers panoramic views of both Seattle and the Puget Sound. That’s likely already enough to sell you, but let’s talk about the menu: housemade, barrel-aged liquor, $5 happy hour draft beer, locally inspired cocktails (the Yesler Old Fashioned is a must) and small seasonal bites (currently featuring dishes like Taiwanese Beef Noodles and Kaffir Lime Pie) mean there’s something for everyone.
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar
Purple Cafe’s wine tower-slash-staircase may seem like the focal point when you walk in the door, but there’s also something to be said about its rooftop, which is surrounded by skyscrapers and therefore something of an urban oasis. Try a flight of Spanish or French wine (for only $15), and pair it with the poutine, the lobster mac and cheese, or the crab cakes.
Perched atop The Graduate Hotel in U District, Mountaineering Club has sweeping views of Mount Rainier, downtown Seattle, the Puget Sound, and tiny little UW freshmen running off to class. Order the Rainier Cherry Bomb and some Hama Hama oysters if you’re feeling extra local and be prepared to wait if you don’t have a reservation (though we’d recommend making one).
In case you missed it, one of the (very few) silver linings from the pandemic can now be found at Ben Paris, as of last year: an ultra-sleek rooftop dining/drinking space on an eighth floor terrace overlooking Pike Place Market. Make a reservation to guarantee your spot, and consider adding some of their special activities to the bill, like a tour of the market with the chef or a curated flight of whiskey or tequila to go with dinner.
Opened in 2018 atop the new Charter Hotel, this 16th-story bar is named for Seattle's perpetually cool, gray skies and boasts a spare interior and muted color-palette to match. But you'll hardly notice given the impressives views of the waterfront and the excellent cocktails they're serving, including a range of classic ones invented in famous hotels, all of which you can now order via touchless menu at each-table.
Perched atop the Thompson Hotel, this 12th floor space offers up some stunning views of the city and Elliott Bay, and serves a selection of snacks from the people behind Westward (Dungeness crab sliders with bacon & Fresno chilies, barbecue prawn skewers, etc.), as well as a range of classic and specialty cocktails poured over housemade pieces of ice, all of which you'll want a reservation to enjoy thanks to warmer weather, and, thus, high demand.
Helmed by the people behind Mamnoon, this 14th story spot is accessed through a small street level bar/waiting room. From there an elevator takes you to a short windowed corridor strewn with neon light that opens into a sprawling 2,800 square foot space—two-thirds of which is outside—where, in addition to Middle Eastern fare you will also enjoy unparalleled views of Seattle Center and the Space Needle, Queen Anne, and Lake Union just two blocks to the north.
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
Five stories above 4th Avenue, in what used to be The Red Lion, this sprawling indoor/outdoor drinking destination is 4,000 square feet full of fire features, Gatorade-colored ping-pong tables, and plenty of ice cold summery cocktails to help you beat the heat (if you’re actually too hot, though, you can always sit inside, as indoor dining is also available).
A welcome addition back in 2015 to this Vietnamese mainstay on the back side of Cap Hill, Monsoon's roof deck allows you to down some crispy drunken chicken, barbecued Carlton Farm pork spare ribs, or crab fried rice under the summer sun while a breeze gently blows through the trees lining 19th Street below.
Rooftop Brewing Company
Opened in 2015, this rooftop patio space features 10 taps pouring a rotating selection of at least 13 brews, including five IPAs, a creamsicle pale ale, and an impressive variety of other styles, all of which taste just a little better each time you catch a glimpse of Salmon Bay and the Fremont Cut between the buildings across the way. And if you're not lucky enough to snag one of the spots on the roof, don't worry—you can still sip beer under the sun thanks to their expanded patio in the parking lot out back.
Everything on this stunning, triangular-shaped restaurant's "earth to plate"-inspired menu tastes better when you're surrounded by an edible garden, one story above the considerable fray of the always bustling Melrose Market. Especially the Korean-style short ribs or the Monday Night Paella. But if you want to score a spot on what was an already crowded rooftop you'd better make a reservation, or settle for one of their extensive to-go options.
Set away behind the mongers throwing fish in the Pike Place Market, it's easy to overlook this charmingly authentic French restaurant... but it's impossible to forget once you're ensconced at a table overlooking the waterfront eating escargot in garlic and parsley butter on a spacious deck (which is, by the way, much roomier than their cramped indoor space).
The Pink Door
Like the rest of the beguiling Post Alley eatery on which it sits, this most unlikely of all Seattle's rooftop decks is reached by going down a long staircase, through the newly reopened indoor dining room, and out onto the patio, which is both below street level and breathtakingly above what few streets remain between it and the waterfront, giving you the sense that you're safely hidden away, and sitting on top of the world, at the same time. Just keep in mind that reservations are highly recommended due to limited seating.